How many hours a week do you work, 40, 50, 60, maybe even more? If you’re a mortgage broker you’re very likely to be working those long hours. And it’s that, plus high stress levels in the job that are causing broker burnout and with it, bringing mental health and wellbeing issues into focus.
Rate increases, constant criteria updates and last-minute product withdrawals all contribute to the rising stress levels and long working days. It’s this fatigue and burnout rather than illness that has accounted for more than a third of property professionals taking time off over the last two years, according to a study by YourBusinessNumber.
Taking a deep dive in broker health
A recent report by the Mortgage Industry Mental Health Charter takes a deeper dive into the state of mental health in the mortgage sector. And it makes interesting but also very worrying reading.
23% say their mental health is poor of concern. That’s up on recent years and proof, if proof was needed, that there is a very real challenge ahead within the industry to safeguard the health of the burned-out mortgage broker.
55% of brokers are working more than 45 hours a week on average, which is over the recommended weekly guidance and 13% work more than 60 hours a week.
It’s not just the long hours that cause problems, simply getting enough sleep can be a problem too. 27% of brokers say in a regular working week they never get enough sleep, which can lead to depression, anxiety, decreased brain function, and weakened immune system.
How do you know if you are burned-out?
Being burned-out is not the same as being stressed. They are two different things. Burnout is defined as being a form of exhaustion which is the result of excessive and prolonged emotional, physical, and mental stress.
Common signs of burnout include:
- Feeling tired or drained most of the time
- Feeling helpless, trapped and/or defeated
- Feeling detached/alone in the world
- Having a cynical/negative outlook
- Procrastinating and taking longer to get things done
- Feeling overwhelmed
Finding a solution
OK, so you think you might be burned-out. You’re working more than 60 hours a week trying to keep up with your workload, and you’re not getting a good night’s sleep anymore. Your health is suffering. What can you do to help alleviate the problem?
You could sum it in a few words – a better work/life balance. But let’s break that down and look at some ways that can be achieved.
- Good communication – talk to work colleagues and family members, tell them how you are feeling and what you might need in way of support.
- Set boundaries – communicate those boundaries to others to help find the downtime you need for family, exercising, or simply switching off and doing nothing. Turn that work phone off.
- Take time out – use annual leave, it’s there for a reason. Being heroic and battling on will only make the situation worse.
- Factor in breaks – take breaks throughout the day and get away from that computer screen.
- Exercise and healthy eating – exercise particularly is a great distraction from work stress and is an opportunity to clear your mind and improve your mental health.
- Flexible/hybrid working – work from home two or three days a week and get back some time for yourself by avoiding the daily commute. The technology is available to help you do that.
You have to help yourself. Only by changing the way you work and adapting your daily routine will you start to combat burnout. Technology like that from Mortgage Brain helps brokers get back valuable time that can be better spent not only in their work life but their personal life too and the relaunch of the popular Lender Service Report means brokers can go to a single web page to get a snapshot of what levels of service to expect from lenders. No more time spent visiting a multitude of websites or making endless phone calls.
Use these time-saving tools and consider the points above and then maybe you will meet the criteria that the MIMHC report says are the top factors connected with good health and wellbeing:
- Happy relationship
- Financial Independence
- Enough Sleep
- Healthy fitness and diet routine
You have to help yourself. Only by changing the way you work and adapting your daily routine will you start to combat burnout.
Helping brokers to help themselves
The Mortgage Industry Mental Health Charter was set up to keep the conversation going around mental health within the industry. They say:
“Our mission is to implement best practice mental health support in the mortgage industry and shine a light on prominent issues within the sector, including isolation, stress, financial worries and fears about the future.”
The charter is made up of six points:
- Develop mental health awareness among employees using activities and advocacy.
- Encourage open conversations about mental health and the support available to employees who may be struggling.
- Provide employees with good working conditions that encourage a healthy work life balance and opportunities for development.
- Promote effective people management through line managers and ensure there is a focus on physical and mental wellbeing as well as performance.
- Routinely monitor employee mental health and wellbeing through surveys and regular contact with managers.
- Have a named contact for Mental Health Support.
Is it working? According to the MIMHC’s latest report 48% of respondents say mental health support has improved since the pandemic but 52% said provision had not improved or they weren’t aware of any, so the picture is inconclusive.
If you want to sign-up to the charter, you can do so here.
Mortgage Brain take the mental health and wellbeing of employees very seriously. Hence the recent initiative ‘Summer Fridays’ where during July and August staff could finish work at lunchtime to go and do the things that help them relax and recharge their batteries. Read more here.
Burnout is a very serious problem in any walk of life, but mortgage brokers appear to be more prone to it than some. If you’re struggling, take the first step and talk about it.
-  https://www.mortgagesolutions.co.uk/news/2022/06/29/nature-of-mortgage-broker-role-increases-risk-of-burnout-%E2%80%92-analysis/
-  https://mimhc.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2022/05/MIMHC-Mental-Health-Welbeing-Report-2022.pdf
-  https://mentalhealth-uk.org/burnout/
-  https://mimhc.co.uk/the-mortgage-industry-mental-health-charter/